It was december 2010 and everything was covered in snow. We finally experienced a white Christmas in the Netherlands. Not only a white Christmas btw, it would not stop snowing. We took a picture of our family of five; one baby, one almost two years old and a little boy who had just turned five. We did it again, striking the same poses, a few days before we left South Africa and, yes, we did it again this year, on the 31st of December. (Leading to a quarrel as Joost said ‘Yes, I remember how we did this, we don’t need the picture!’ Well…)
Taking this picture made me realise that we really are moving. It’s not easy, it’s never easy and I’m very thankful to be able to share my experiences with my dear Instafriend Anna! She is also Dutch and has been living in Sweden for two years. We ‘met’ online and she and her lovely family are also moving back to the Netherlands. We decided to write each other bits and pieces about our moving process. I have included the first correspondence!
Anna & Eva are moving
It’s the day after Christmas and me and my laptop sneaked out of the house. Now I sit here in this coffee bar, where the Swedes have their endless Fika and I try to think and write. I have a lot to think about, because we are moving back. Back to the Netherlands. Just like you. I actually don’t like the sound ‘moving back’. It gives me that feeling you get when you got the Jail card at Monopoly ‘Go directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect 200’ You have to start all over again. I think I prefer moving forward.
And I know it is not true. We are not ‘moving back’. You cannot move back when it comes to the life you are living. It made me think of this quote of Eric Roth
“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed, is you”
So moving back is actually moving forward (are you still with me?). It is just as exciting as moving abroad, only then with the good Dutch cheese and friends and family nearby to help us!
Next time I wanted to write about how I will miss being ‘special’ when we are moving to the Netherlands again. Don’t you think you will miss being that ‘weird open Dutch family’ when you are back home again. How many times I used the “o, sorry, it must be a cultural difference” -excuse when I found myself in a (social-) awkward situation. Going to miss that.
Trying to get my head around writing having the kids sitting at the other side of the table. They’re doing arts and crafts and you never know if it will keep them busy for 4 or 5 minutes.
Just like you, we’re moving to the Netherlands in February after having lived in South Africa for three and in the USA for two years. Do I feel like we’re moving back and if so, back to what? We’re Dutch, yes. Well, at least, Joost and I are Dutch. The children have lived in other parts of the world for more than half of their lives! Besides that we’re older, experienced other cultures and I think we learned from that, maybe even adopted habits. Meaning, we’re not the same anymore. We’re moving forward and back and with different versions of ourselves. (Love that quote you used!)
I remember how it was having three little ones moving to the other side of the world. They were 5, almost 2 and 5 months. We were going on an adventure to Africa, see wild animals, do cool things! Yes, it was an adventure, but I also noticed that you take it step by step. The first weeks you live in a dream world, you’re in Africa! After those first weeks it’s just you and your family in another house, in another city,in another country. You make sure the children go to school, you arrange playdates, you learn the language (better) and you find things to do (the toughest thing ever). After another few weeks you start exploring.
It’s weird, you go from Africa, to the city, to your house and when you feel at ease you slowly start making your circle bigger again.
Not sure if I make myself clear, but I think the same will happen to us in the Netherlands. Yes, we’re going back, but we will first have to settle in as a family. The children will go to a new school, make new friends and get used to our house (that we don’t have yet and furniture will be on the boat for three months too, but no stress, NO stress) We will probably cocoon with the five of us, maybe the closest friends and family, to be able to give the children a feeling of security. After that we will explore and slowly expand our circle.
The process will be the same and thus adventurous. I think it’s not going back, it’s definitely about moving on.
Ps. Yes, I will miss being special, haha! I will speak with an American accent just to have people ask me: ‘Wow, where are you from?!’